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The Benefits and Joys of Christian Meditation

In a paper exploring The Puritan Practice of Meditation, Joel Beeke helpfully summarizes a number of biblical findings.  Let this be an encouragement and enticement to us all.

Meditation helps us focus on the Triune God, to love and to enjoy Him in all His persons (1 John 4:8)—intellectually, spiritually, aesthetically.
Meditation helps increase knowledge of sacred truth. It “takes the veil from the face of truth” (Prov. 4:2).
Meditation is the “nurse of wisdom,” for it promotes the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:8).
Meditation enlarges our faith by helping us to trust the God of promises in all our spiritual troubles and the God of providence in all our outward troubles.
Meditation augments one’s affections. Watson called meditation “the bellows of the affections.” He said, “Meditation hatcheth good affections, as the hen her young ones by sitting on them; we light affection at this fire of meditation” (Ps. 39:3).
Meditation fosters repentance and reformation of life (Ps. 119:59; Ez. 36:31).
Meditation is a great friend to memory.
Meditation helps us view worship as a discipline to be cultivated. It makes us prefer God’s house to our own.
Meditation transfuses Scripture through the texture of the soul.
Meditation is a great aid to prayer […]

A Question to Ponder

Acts 23:1-5 reads,

“And looking intently at the council, Paul said, ‘Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.’ And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, ‘God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?’ Those who stood by said, ‘Would you revile God’s high priest?’ And Paul said, ‘I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’””

Paul certainly deemed it inappropriate to speak to the high priest the way he did. But what if the exact same thing happened and it wasn’t the high priest who ordered Paul to be struck? Would Paul’s sharp words have been appropriate? In other words, did Paul speak sinfully here? Or could it be that there is a place for such imprecations today (or is the word imprecation too strong in this instance)? And if so, then how does this […]

Some Curious Admissions From Sam Harris

While hanging out with the guys over at Very Bad Wizards, an atheistic podcast that discusses morality, philosophy and culture, Sam Harris made some fascinating comments…shall I say concessions?

As one of the leading atheists of our day, Sam Harris isn’t shy about sharing his feelings about God. Not surprisingly, he spends a fair bit of time attacking the judgments of God, calling God a moral monster and the like. One need only listen to his debate with William Lane Craig on morality. Just go the 54 minute mark to get a taste.

Now what is fascinating to me is how, on the one hand, Sam Harris can decry the judgments of God with resolute certainty, but then turn around and express caveats and nuances that directly undermine those same condemnations.

What do I mean?

Let me provide a number of quotes from episode 63 of Very Bad Wizards to illustrate the matter. Each will serve as a kind of tent peg grounding an overall point.(1)

Tent Peg #1, It all Comes Down to Consequences

• 1:21:00ish, Tamler: “This is what makes me so suspicious. There is always some reason why the thing that is your intuition ends up working for the best consequences. […]

Sharing in the Sufferings of Christ

Of all the doctrines expounded on the Lord’s Day, our sharing in the sufferings of Christ is perhaps one of the most neglected topics. This isn’t to say that the subject of suffering isn’t discussed or preached. Quite the contrary. Suffering, generally considered, is given ample attention. Where there is sickness, there one will hear the subject of suffering discussed at great length. But how often does someone ask: What are the sufferings of Christ, and how do I share in them? Or when was the last time the following was overheard, “I’m sharing in the sufferings of Christ”? Someone might describe themselves as a child of Abraham, or a true Jew, or an ambassador of Christ, or talk about being Spirit filled, or even crucified with Christ, but how often does the biblical concept of “sharing in the sufferings of Christ” directly flavor the everyday speech of saints? It is rarely heard.

But for the apostle Paul, our union with Christ, and by extension, our sharing in His sufferings, greatly informed his outlook and expectations. He could scarcely write a letter without touching upon the subject of suffering, and at several key junctures, he spoke freely and pointedly about sharing […]

G.K. Chesterton Weekend Edition

“But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then he writes another book (about the sex problem) in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is a waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the higher philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie, and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bauble, and […]

Reflections on Genesis 3:15

“The LORD God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel’” (Gen 3:14-15).

Herein marks the announcement of God’s plan. A promise of defeat for Satan, a word of assurance to the angels, and a message of hope for fallen humanity. It is all contained here in kernel form.

The significance of this passage can scarcely be overstated. In one short statement the underlying theme and meaning of history is laid bare. Whatever one says about the history of mankind, therefore, whether they’re looking at the specks of some seemingly insignificant incident, or the grand movements of a mighty nation, if this overarching perspective is fundamentally absent from their thinking, the task of making sense of human experience, whether it be the past or the present or the future, will inevitably fail to reflect the deep currents of reality. As a result, […]

Audio Picks

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the 2015 Desiring God Conference for Pastors, do so. There was an excellent assortment of speakers and messages.

The topic was sin. They titled the conference: Where Sin Increased: The Rebellion of Man and the Abundance of Grace.

Here are a few that stood out to me:

“What is Sin? The Essence and Root of all Sinning,” by John Piper

“Make War: The Pastor and His People in the Battle Against Sin,” by John Piper

“O, That Day, When Freed From Sin,” by Sam Storms

You can find the rest of the messages here.

The Skeptic and the Problem of Evil

The skeptic looks around at the world and concludes that there is a profound problem. He sees that evil is a real and terrible thing, a power that not only creeps about in the heart of man, but permeates nature. Tornadoes rip homes apart. Lungs fill with fluids. Cancer spreads. People starve. Children are run over. Men sink to the bottom of oceans.

History is a museum of death.

Having recognized the horrific nature of such things, the skeptic turns his gaze heavenward and says, “There is no God. Or if there is one, he is a monster.”

All of this seemingly incontrovertible evidence secures in the skeptic’s mind a certain assurance that he is interpreting the data correctly.

But why does the skeptic assume the worst about God? Instead of asking himself whether such evil is meant to speak to him personally, he instinctively raises an accusing finger towards his Maker.  What if the skeptic has it all turned around? What if all human suffering, especially the suffering of the Son of God, is meant by God to portray, for dull souls like ours, the unimaginable ugliness and offensiveness of sin? What if God subjected the world to futility in order to show […]

Let The Nations Be Glad

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church.  Worship is.  Missions exists because worship doesn’t.  Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.  When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more.  It is a temporary necessity.  But worship abides forever.

Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal of missions.  It’s the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory.  The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God.  ‘The LORD reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!’ (Psalm 97:1). ‘Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee!  Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!’ (Psalm 67:3-4).

But worship is also the fuel of missions.  Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching.  You can’t commend what you don’t cherish.  Missionaries will never call out, ‘Let the nations be glad!, who cannot say from the heart, ‘I rejoice in the Lord… I will be glad and exult in […]

How Might the Faith Chapter Read if it Were Written Today?

What if the faith chapter (Hebrews 11) was written today? How might it read?

This thought struck me the other day. Whether Moses or Abraham or Rahab, these saints trusted in God, looking beyond their present circumstances to the One in control of their circumstances. By faith they looked to God, knowing His word and promises. As the opening verse of the faith chapter says,

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”

So how might we be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see? What might that faith look like? Here are a few that come to mind.

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By faith missionary saints did not consider Muslim lands to be impenetrable, but believed in Him who is able to penetrate the hardest and most hostile of hearts. They said with Paul that they were willing to endure all things for the sake of the elect. And so believing, they went.

By faith the stay-at-home saint looked beyond the midnight feedings and messy diapers to the future, trusting that the Lord would use her to raise godly offspring. She […]